Terry Savage head and shoulders above Suze Orman

By Steve Savant

I started to compare Suze to Terry. It was like comparing fluff to stuff, showmanship to substance.

The Savage Truth on Money Tour – The American revivalist Terry Savage

The truth can never be in the eye of the beholder again, because I was in the eye of the storm where truth was stated calmly in the center of the whirlwind of popular opinion. The prophetess of finances unfurled her plumb line, with a hint of self-righteousness. You know the old adage, “It’s my way or the highway.” But her way is the highway!

Welcome to the Savage Truth on Money starring the Chicago Sun Times financial columnist Terry Savage live and on stage at the McArthur Ballroom in Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix Arizona. She was in the Valley, and for most who attend, it would become the valley of decision.

There were no exploding pyrotechnics, no ear piercing rock anthems and certainly no one in spandex. So it wasn’t a concert. It was more like a revival; a revival of financial reason, punctuated with math.

Terry Savage is not for the faint of heart. Either you want to get your financial house in order or you shouldn’t have come. She took to the stage the size of metro theater. I thought it would dwarf her petite frame. Big things come in small packages. It was a big stage. The backdrop was a huge Allstate corporate logo (the evening’s sponsor), good hands and all. But Terry’s personality was bigger than both.

Terry used no high voltage, MBA vocabulary. This was trench warfare, so bottom line - we’re in boot camp. It was the basic financial vocabulary for raw recruits. She laid out the financial challenges facing the nation and its people. The matriarch of money was on a mission.

Her Power Point presentation was just a teleprompter. Her main resource for the night was her book, The Savage Truth on Money. Everyone in the audience had their signed copy. They clutched it like the Bible. And although much of what Terry addressed was basic, simple Econ 101, most of the attendees took copious notes as if Terry was dispensing economic epiphanies. Her biggest line or the night: “Don’t bet against America.” She repeated it several times throughout her call to return to financial sanity. I felt like the prodigal returning from loose living and consumer debauchery.

Her promotional ads tout that she wrote the book on financial literacy. That’s why I’m here in the front row. I mean, she’s been on CNN, CNBC, NBC, PBS and Oprah. Jim Cramer recommended her as, “buy, buy, buy.” So I’m basking in a wealth of wisdom, along with almost 1,000 other RSVPs.
Terry was talking about the iconoclastic Wall Street bulls and bears and then she added another animal to econ zoo: chickens. Chickens are those sitting on the sidelines in do-nothing cash equivalent accounts, safe but earning nearly nothing. Terry was like a hen pushing her children off the sidelines of fear and onto the playing field of the stock market. The couple sitting next to me cackled like chickens, mocking their own financial phobias.

She used a blitzkrieg on one-liners as she ran the audience down a gauntlet of history, math and human behavior. She should have hung out a sign out like a marquee billboard with a flashing neon message, “Today is the day get your financial house in order” with a subtitle, “Tomorrow is not an option. “

For a minute, I thought Terry was going to make an altar call for attendees to come forward, surrender their credit cards to a monster shredder for a classic Gallagher moment. Just slice 'n dice ‘cause cash will suffice. But she’s classy, the event was classy which made Allstate looked classy.

When I went home that night I saw a short commercial for Suze Orman. I started to compare Suze to Terry. It was like comparing fluff to stuff, showmanship to substance. It's not even close, comparing Suze "Bores Men's" blathering banter of the obvious to Terry’s straight talk, street smart practical advice. I don’t mean to savage Suze, but then again, I was under the influence of the Savage truth from Miss Savage herself.